Genomics is a science that forms part of the biology field and is focused on the sequencing and analysis of genomes in different organisms. Genomics has helped scientists understand many things about humans, other animals, plants, and more. A genome refers to the complete DNA content of an organism and genomics is, therefore, the study of the genetic makeup of these organisms.
Scientists have mapped the whole human genome as part of the Human Genome Project that was started in the 1990s. The discoveries they made and the understanding they now have of the human genetic makeup, has many benefits. Also, knowing the difference between human genetics and plants and other animals can help with further studies and medical and other advances.
Genomics is helpful in many ways. Here are some short examples:
- Functional genomics – This field is concerned with determining the function of genes in an organism. Knowing what a gene does helps scientists understand how that organism’s systems work, for example, the digestive system. It also helps scientists to know which genes cause diseases and which ones can help with healing.
- Genetic manipulation – This is relevant in humans, animals, and plants. Scientists are studying genes to understand how they can manipulate or change genes to help get rid of hereditary disease or to make an organism stronger or to make it more resistant to environmental conditions. The options for manipulation to improve the characteristics and functions of an organism’s genes are endless.
- Population genetics – Knowing the genomes of humans helps scientists understand population genetics better. Environmental factors influence health and other aspects of human life and genomics can be used to understand these differences and influences within different populations. This can lead to an understanding of whether genes can be manipulated to make people stronger to handle those conditions or whether their genes have adapted or mutated to be able to survive in certain conditions.
- Disease prevention – We mentioned this in number 2, but it requires some expansion. Certain diseases or predispositions are carried through our genes. Certain environmental factors can trigger the activation of these genes and sometimes the genes remain inactive and the disease or problem never manifests. Genomics is very important in learning about how to prevent the inheritance of deadly or chronic diseases. It can also help to understand how these diseases mutate or become activated.
Studying genetics and what they do and how they do it is extremely helpful to science and advances in human health. Understanding how human genetics work and how it differs from person to person and population to population can help scientists make amazing advances in disease prevention. When it comes to plants, knowledge of genetics can help scientists cultivate crops that can resist bad weather or specific pests. The opportunities are endless.
Genomics, genetics, and biology, in general, are absolutely fascinating. The way that scientists study our makeup and use it to improve our lives is amazing. If you would like to learn more about genomes and science, read this article.